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Life is simple, but us humans like to complicate things.
Transforming your life or finally getting your shit together sound like great ideas. You may watch videos and read blogs about people who have seemingly perfect lives. You get motivated for a day or two, everything is going great.
But then once that initial motivation wears off…you start hitting snooze again, you eat 15 cookies, you don’t exercise again for weeks, you binge Netflix instead of getting work done.
Why does this happen?
You might be trying to do too much at once.
Oh and another thing, those people with perfect lives that you watch for motivation, they struggle with self-discipline and keeping their shit together sometimes too.
Life is a series of ups and downs for most people. However, the more you practice personal development, the smaller the difference between the peaks and pits are that you experience.
Meaning, if you do fall off the “having your shit together” train, you don’t fall too hard or stay down for too long. For example, once you make a habit of exercising you may miss a few days but get right back to it. Rather than miss months at a time.
The chart I created below represents those ups and downs.
In my opinion, you can’t go all in. Going from not doing much to eating healthy, exercising daily, meditating, reading, journaling, stretching, not procrastinating, etc. is likely going to result in failure.
Transforming sounds like the best thing ever, but once you actually start changing your life you realize how much those bad habits have a hold on you.
So where do you start?
Start with the three basics of life.
- Physical movement
All of which are interconnected and cause a ripple effect on one another and other areas of life.
If you can focus on these three things, even one at a time, everything else will slowly fall in to place.
We all know sleep is vital for our health. While we sleep our bodies physically recover, allowing us to effectively make decisions, control our emotions, and build muscle, among other things.
And you can’t just sleep for a few hours everyday and be good, adults typically need to complete 4 to 5, 90 minute stages of the sleep cycle (light sleep, deep sleep, REM) or about 6-9 total hours of sleep.
Another important thing to consider is sleep hygiene. This includes going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, limiting screen use before bed, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, a cool sleeping temperature, proper bedding, a dark quiet room, and so on.
If you prioritize your sleep and sleep hygiene, you will likely notice an improvement in other areas of your life.
You’ll have more energy throughout the day
You’ll have more focus
You may lose weight or notice your muscles improving
You may crave less junk food
You may be in a better mood, therefore improving your relationships
Personally, when I have a really bad night of sleep or barely sleep at all, I wake up feeling extremely anxious and overall negative. Everything is more difficult and all my problems are exaggerated.
Where to Start
First figure out what time you MUST go to bed in order to sleep 7-9 hours and wake up in time for work. Then work on improving your sleep hygiene.
If you can improve your sleep and time sleeping, you’ll probably have more energy to cook meals and exercise…which leads me to my next points…
Quality nutrition is underrated. Unfortunately, we live in a society where professionals (doctors) barely learn about nutrition, meaning everyone else barely knows about it either.
If we have a problem, we’re usually prescribed a medication, but typically we could treat or even cure those problems with lifestyle changes.
Food is medicine.
Your diet can literally change your life. Many studies have been done that demonstrate how a change in diet can treat diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, and can even reduce the size of tumors.
Grocery stores are filled with highly processed foods, loaded with sodium and sugar. Portion sizes are out of control and many people are consuming more coffee and soda than water.
When you eat junk food, how do you usually feel after?
Personally, I start to feel tired, gross, and sometimes even anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE donuts, french fries, and cookies, which is why I try to consume them in moderation.
Just like with your sleep, if you can start making healthy food swaps and little diet changes here and there, you will notice positive changes in your life.
A nutritious diet with whole foods will increase your energy and help you focus more
Your bowel movements/gut health may improve (which is linked to brain health)
You may sleep better
You may be/feel less bloated
Your skin may improve
And so on
Where to Start
Maybe start with the things you drink.
Drink a full glass of room temperature water right when you wake up or before you allow yourself coffee. If you are used to drinking multiple cups of coffee or soda, reduce it to just 1-2 and replace with fruit infused water.
Then move on to actual food. Replace that breakfast pastry with some oatmeal topped with peanut butter and apples.
Replace a bag of chips with raw bell peppers or a handful of pretzels.
The best thing you can start doing is MEAL PREPPING. Plan your meals for the week, go grocery shopping, and spend a couple of hours prepping all of your food. I’ve been meal prepping every week since 2016 and it has saved me so much time and money. I don’t have to think about what to cook after a busy/long day at work!
Related: How to Start A Healthy Diet
You know there really is something behind the phrase, “If you don’t use it you lose it.”
I am often reminded of this by my peers. Those who live a sedentary life often complain of pain, suffer from illnesses, and are typically overweight.
The human body is meant to move.
Dr. James Levine even claims that “sitting is the new smoking.” And even if you exercise on a regular basis, extended periods of sitting can decrease your lifespan, and increase your chance of developing cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and back pain.
Lack of movement can also cause weakening of muscles, stiffening of joints, and loss in bone density. Which of course is likely to lead to a number of adverse health effects (osteoporosis, arthritis, pain, broken bones, etc.).
In contrast, physical activity regulates blood flow throughout your body, improves your mood, boosts your immunity, allows your brain to function properly, and many other benefits.
So while you should definitely start a workout regimen involving cardio and weight lifting, you should also be sure you are implementing more standing and walking throughout your whole day.
Where to Start
Set a timer on your phone or watch every hour to remind yourself to stand up, stretch, and walk.
Get a standing desk for work/home.
Park in the back of a parking lot.
Always take the stairs.
The best thing about being physically active is that your sleep will improve AND it is very likely that you will want to improve your diet because why would you want to waste all the effort?
For those reasons, physical movement (working out, being active) is a keystone habit. A term used by Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit to describe a habit that leads to the act or development of multiple other habits.
Related: How to Make Exercise a Habit
So now what?
Once you begin actively working on one of all of the basics of life, you’ll begin to notice a mental and physical shift within yourself.
Let’s say now you’re sleeping a solid 8 hours every night. You now have energy to read a book everyday. One of those books gives you the inspiration and courage to start your own business. With this new business you start generating extra income and you pay off all your debt and start saving tons of money.
Maybe you start meal planning and prepping which saves you thousands of dollars throughout the year. You start to lean out from eating better/controlling your portions. With the extra money you book a beach vacation with your family, and you now have the confidence to wear a bikini.
Maybe while you exercise and walk everyday you listen to a motivational podcast. You end up listening to a podcast in which the individual swears by meditation. Then you start meditating and completely transform your spiritual energy. Because of your vibrational increase, you begin attracting positive people in your life and maybe you end up falling in love or making virtuous friends.
You get the idea. The three basics of life ALL have the ability to create waves in your life. It’s really quite amazing.